Esther Obert-McElhinney graduated from Union City High School in 1992 as the class valedictorian. Esther was a three sport athlete while at Union City, participating on volleyball, basketball, and softball. She selected all-county three times for her softball playing skills. Esther also participated in chorus and was selected to district chorus, regional chorus, all-state chorus, and all-eastern chorus three times. Esther also had the leading role in the Union City’s high school musical production.
Esther was appointed to the United States Air Force Academy where she received the Daedalian Award for achievement in aeronautics. While training at the Academy Esther became the first female pilot to eject from an F-16 fighter jet. She graduated with a degree in Engineering Science with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering. Esther then graduated from the United States Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus Air Force Base. She then continued her training by graduating from the United States Air Force F-16 Training program at Luke Air Force Base.
Esther’s next assignment was at Shaw Air Force Base as an F-16CG Electronic Combat Pilot. During that time she flew combat missions out of Saudi Arabia in Operation Southern Watch. Later she flew combat missions out of Turkey in Operation Northern Watch. Esther was named the Shaw Air Force Base Woman of the Year in 2000. Later she went on to Osan Air Force Base in South Korea as an F-16CG Pilot, Chief of Squadron Scheduling. She was the Supervisor of Flying and directed the United States Air Forces’ largest fiscal year 2002 F-16 program of 5,904 sorties and 8,150 hours. Esther was also named the Distinguished Graduate of Pilot Instructor Training.
At Columbas Air Force Base she became the Instructor Pilot and received the “Top Graduate” award in T-37 Pilot Instructor Training. With her title as Executive Officer, 43rd FTS Columbus Air Force Base, Esther led ten SUPT graduations. She supervised eleven instructor pilots and managed programs for forty-five student pilots. She was the 41 FTS Flight CC of the year in 2005.
In 2010 Esther became part-time Advanced Math Instructor at the Heritage Academy in Columbus, MS. She served in that capacity until 2014. Esther retired from the United States Air Force in May 2016 and has taken a Civil Service position at Columbus Air Force Base as a Sim Instructor. Esther resides in Columbus, MS with her husband Tom and daughters Kate and Shannon.